It has been the longest year…For months, it’s been as though COVID-19 were creating days that went on forever; a sense of longing for others that couldn’t be satiated; a fearfulness that was bone deep; and the growing dissent among us, over such basic issues as wearing a mask–to protect one’s self and others.
But I have experienced mostly the opposite: A closeness in our family that is magnified by love and need; and an awakening of thousands and perhaps millions of us to the heroic efforts of medical practitioners and scientists, all over the world, who have worked together in small groups and large collaborative efforts, sharing their scientific data and their expertise, thereby accelerating the production of vaccines that will (and already have, as I write) save us.
And there was, finally. Michael Rosen’s book, Many Different Kinds of Love, which had a perspective-altering effect on me, and helped me to realize exactly what being infected by COVID-19 meant not only to the individual person, but what it meant to healers, researchers and caregivers everywhere.
It helped me to feel enormous gratitude for the ties that bind us.
Upon beginning the second year of the pandemic,
I am moved by the kindness of science
The evolutionary biologists
The structural chemists
care physicians and nurses
The reassigned medical and para-medical professionals—psychiatrists, speech therapists, and others
respiratory therapists who helped us to breathe
though many of us never found our breath again
occupational and physiotherapists
who helped our bodies remember how to move
and taught us to move differently in the aftermath
The aids, attendants and orderlies
Who keep everything moving in hospitals
From the supply rooms and the laundry
To the pharmacy and radiology
Delivering bags of I.V. solutions and medications
Those who accepted working extra shifts
Over and over
Treating us with compassion
The caregivers who spoke to us and for us
Saw past the ventilators
Saw the person in the comatose body
All those whose work is to help lighten the load
Taking on the responsibility of our suffering
Resting their hopes on our resilience.
You will have saved us
You are science’s kindest face
You are passionate, committed, diligent
You collaborate across continents
You are hope
You are the biggest kind of Love.
- “La vaccination, circa 1923
Victor François Tardieu, oil on canvas
2. Illustration by Toni Um